Typically, on this site, I write about using a table tennis conversion top to convert a pool table into a ping pong playing surface. Today, however, I will go into some detail about turning your dining room table into a table tennis table. Specifically, I’ll look at which conversion tops have successfully been used on dining tables by other people in the past.
What is a table tennis conversion top?
A table tennis conversion top is basically just a ping pong table without the legs. Usually it comes in two halves, and can be ordered online, often with free shipping, at places like Amazon. The standard pricing is in the low $300’s. I recently wrote about the two most popular conversion tops.
Usually, they are used to convert pool tables, but there are plenty of people who have used them on top of dining tables. If your family does not use your dining room all that much, maybe you too can turn it into a ping pong table!
But can you really use a conversion top on your dining table?
Yes, as I already stated: there are many people who report successfully using a conversion top on their dining table.
I think the most important thing to take into account is how nice your dining table is. If it is a really well-crafted, expensive table then that makes this whole plan less appealing. While a ping pong conversion top will often come with foam pads that go underneath it, in order to prevent scratching, it is not 100% foolproof.
But if your family has a dining table that is already old and dinged up, less fear is warranted. If it is broke, don’t fix it! You can play ping pong on it instead.
What size dining table will work?
Table tennis conversion tops come in different sizes, but the best ones are the same size as regulation ping pong tables: 9’ x 5’.
Does that mean that your dining table must be 9’ x 5’? No, it means the opposite. Ideally, you want your dining table to have smaller dimensions than the table tennis table. 9’ x 5’ conversion tops are built to have the strength to hang over the edges of pool tables that are as little as only 7’ long. Therefore, it is certainly safe to place a conversion top on a table that is only 7’ or 8’ long.
It’s good to have it extending over the edge, because then if you swing during a game and hit the conversion top edge, you won’t also hit the dining table. Good conversion tops, like the ones I recommend most highly here, are sturdy enough to extend out “into the air” and still give a great, loyal bounce to the ball.
Any dining table that is less than 9’ x 5’ will be suitable for a standard-sized (again, 9’ x 5’) table tennis conversion top. The important thing is for the center of gravity of each half of the conversion top to not get too close to the ends of your dining table. If your table were only 4 ½‘ long then that will place the center of gravity right on the edge, but I have never heard of a dining table that is that short.
In case you do want to place a ping pong top on top of a kitchen table, for example, that is 6’ or shorter in length, then I would recommend the smaller Viper portable conversion top, which is only 7’ x 3 ½’. It’s not quite “real” ping pong but it is the next best thing given surface space limitations.
Best table tennis conversion tops to use on a dining table
My top pick is the Martin Kilpatrick ¾” top. Kilpatrick has been making these tops for a long time, while other companies have come and gone from the conversion marketplace. It doesn’t get much better than German engineering at a fair price.
I also like the Joola top, which is very similar in quality to the above. There is a slight difference in that the Joola net is clamped to the table top, so that if your dining table happened to be exactly 5’ wide, the clamp could interfere with the top lying flat on your table. However, that will not be an issue for most people, as most dining tables are not 5’ wide.
Best conversion top for a smaller table
For those of you who do not have a large dining table, and are instead trying to convert a much smaller table into a ping pong surface, I think the best choice is the Viper top that I mentioned above. At 7’ x 3.5’ it is made specifically for smaller tables; it just won’t be the same as playing table tennis on a full-sized surface.
Protecting your dining table from scratches
I would suggest using a non-slip tablecloth on top of your dining table in order to protect it from scratches. The conversion top will not shift and move, but it’s still best to take micro-precautions unless you really don’t care if your table gets scratched.
The foam padding may help, but it is designed more for a pool table – so it goes around the edges. Remember that a dining table is completely flat while a pool table has elevated edges which the conversion top rests upon. Therefore, some sort of consideration for the surface area of the dining table may be appropriate.